Saturday, July 30, 2016

Naida—A Rescue Success Story

Who can use an upbeat story these days? Well here's one, and it illustrates the many people and circumstances that must come together to change one dog's life.

Naida came to us from the Asheville Humane Society. She arrived there almost completely blind from a painful, progressive disease called pannus that damages the corneas of the eyes. Recognizing that the chaos of a shelter was no place for a blind dog, the staff and volunteers at the Asheville Humane Society took special care with Naida, keeping her in the quietest area they had available and working hard to place her into a rescue. They contacted GSRA about Naida in early May. We definitely wanted to help, but needed to first make sure we knew what we were getting into as far as her future care. Equally important, we needed to have a foster home willing to take on a blind dog and oversee whatever medical care she was going to need. 

We consulted with one of the vets we commonly work with to find out what the treatment of pannus might look like, and learned it can run the gamut from eye drops to laser surgery to removal of the eyeballs. A wide range, I'm sure you'll agree! And all of it is done by a specialist, a veterinary ophthalmologist. We certainly hoped Naida's treatment would fall into the simpler end of that spectrum, but GSRA's generous donor base gave us the confidence to commit to taking her, even if her treatment led to the costlier options. Next up was finding a foster home willing to make the leap of faith required to take in a mostly blind dog. One of our most dedicated volunteers offered her home for that, allowing us to move Naida from the shelter in early June. Our next step was to get her to a specialist and get her treatment started. I'll gloss over the details here because the story is getting long, but here are the key points:
  • Naida was started on two different types of eye drops, both of which needed to be given multiple times per day. Have you ever tried to give eye drops to a dog? How about to a dog who's blind, doesn't know you, and has no reason to trust you? HUGE shout-out to the foster for working through this and earning Naida's trust!!
  • Naida's eyes were noticeably clearer after only a few DAYS!
  • At her 2-week recheck the specialist gave us the OK to reduce the frequency of one of the drops. Over the coming weeks, this medication will be discontinued entirely. She'll continue to need the other eye drops twice a day for life. 
  • Most importantly, Naida can SEE! Perhaps not quite as sharply as before the pannus developed, but well enough to navigate through life as an essentially normal dog. 

You can see the remarkable change in Naida's eyes in the "before" and "after" photos above. The first was taken at the shelter in May, and the second was taken at our July adoption event. This delightful dog is now living without the pain of terribly inflamed eyes, and is looking forward to finding her new forever home. We're fortunate that treatment turned out to be so straightforward in her case, and well aware that things could easily have gone the other way. 

Now that is Naida's story, and it's why we do what we do. No one of us could have done it alone, but with strong partnerships with area shelters and veterinarians, plus the ongoing support of our committed volunteers and generous donors, we can to it TOGETHER. If you have ever supported GSRA, either with your time or with your dollars, then this is your story too.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Bear's Birthday

Happy Birthday Bear Buddy, or as I like to refer to him - BOOBEAR!

I know I keep saying this over and over again, but I am beyond amazed. I guess I built up this long rehabilitation process in my head and I can't seem to wrap my head around how quickly Bear has adjusted to life off of the chain!

Bear has been at the hospital since Saturday. We needed to make sure he was healthy and heartworm negative before we could neuter him. Our first bit of good news came Saturday morning when we discovered that he was heartworm negative. We had prepared ourselves for the worst and relief across the rescue could be heard throughout the state! Next, his blood work... came back perfect. For a dog that has been starved, he was remarkably healthy. That meant that Bear lost his, um, well, he got neutered on Monday. He was a little upset at first, but has completely forgiven us! 

Yesterday, I visited him in the hospital. Apparently our young man is feeling better and wants human or canine company ALL OF THE TIME. When he was alone in his kennel, he made his displeasure known. He was a real pain in the toosh yesterday and I LOVE IT! I feel bad for the vet and the vet techs, but a healthy and excited dog is exactly what I want! They discovered if they put a canine friend in the room with him, he calmed down and was quiet. This boy is going to be someone's SHADOW!!

I think I can stop with my words and let Bear tell you how he feels! This was our playtime yesterday. Notice that tail! NOT the same dog from 2 weeks ago! Tomorrow Bear comes home with me to meet Cooper, Asher and Miss "I am a Monster" Maggie. All GSRA Alums! 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Bear's Release from the Chain

In the days leading up to the release date we were all getting nervous. We had visited Bear a couple of times and he growled at us and seemed so afraid. The night before the Release, Bear seemed to sense something else was going on. In this video we see some glimmer of hope. Notice, however, how tucked his little tail still is.
All night we worried. Would the people who signed the release for Bear actually let us take him? They did not want him, but it was made very clear that they did not care that he was going to a better place. They did not like Bear and to them he was a thing that they could just ignore and starve. Everyone involved in the rescue worried that evening.

Ready to muzzle Bear, wear protective clothing in case he wanted to bite us, bright and early Saturday morning we loaded up the SUV and headed out.  We planned for this to be difficult. But, we got the GREATEST surprise of lives. The moment Bear's chain came off, his tail came up and began wagging so fast I was afraid he would take off! He actually RAN towards us. He was grateful, he was ready and he TRUSTED us to take care of him. I cannot describe in words the honor I felt by his trust. He had no reason to believe in us, but he did. This is a dog's greatest strength and their biggest weakness - trusting humans. See the video of his release.

Bear's Birthday from cris on Vimeo.

Stay tuned for the next blog about his medical checkup, but I MUST share this little teaser... to our absolute amazement, this boy is Heartworm Negative! Just like his unexpected joy in seeing us, this was another unexpected miracle.

Friday, November 6, 2015

It Started with an Email

It all started with an email from a concerned neighbor to our rescue email. The email was forwarded to me with the comment, "OH MY GOD, isn't this in your area?'  Indeed it was and this is how the journey to save Bear began.

I reached out to the good Samaritan who contacted us about Bear and discovered that the situation was even more dire than we at first thought. At the moment of writing this and posting, we do not have possession of Bear so I will keep my details light, in hopes of filling everyone in at a later date. But, the long story short is, Bear was left to starve to death.

The good samaritans watched this poor dog on the chain everyday. Calls to animal control were not met with many options. Then they began noticing that Bear was getting thinner. Were their eyes playing tricks on them? Upon investigation, not only did they find that Bear was getting thinner, he was actually starving to death. The good samaritans began sneaking him food and reached out to German Shepherd Rescue.

I went to assess this boy. Well... assess isn't the right word since I could not get near him. He growled and told me to stay away. Looking at that frail body, with his tail tucked so tightly I knew in my heart he wanted to be a good dog, he just had not been given the opportunity.

GSRA houses all of our dogs in foster homes. We need to know the temperament of the dog before we place them in someone's home. Is the dog good with other dog? Cats? Children? Men? These things are imperative for us to know in order to ensure the best possible foster home match. Unfortunately, I left the assessment with no answers. I could not tell our Intake or Foster Coordinators anything about this dog other than he was 1). Starving 2). Scared 3). a Sheppie/Hound mix (that I am VERY found of).   The smart answer would be to say no; Bear is not a candidate for our rescue. Well, no one ever said animal rescuers always make the SMARTEST decisions. So, it was decided.... BEAR IS A GSRA DOG.

Over the coming days and weeks I will share Bear's Rescue story. It is just beginning to unfold. Tomorrow Bear leaves his chain for the last time. Because of his fear, we will need to sedate him to get him to the vet, but we are confident that once that chain is removed, Bear will begin to heal.

The video below was shot over the course of several days. Bear has begun to trust the good samaritan who is feeding him and by my second visit, he took food from my hands. All of this is VERY VERY promising. Please think about us tomorrow morning. This will be the MOST difficult part of this change for Bear. Even though he received no love, very little food, and had minimal protection from the elements, Bear is leaving the only home he has ever known. We can't tell him what is happening or reassure him other than by gentle voices.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Cooper Discusses Senior Dog Health with Experts

All My Loot!
Cooper has been busy the last few weeks. He has been going to school, learning new things and has also been looking into the special care of Seniors. Cooper LOVES his Mama Tina and nothing is too good for her!

Cooper talked with LeighAnn, a Licensed Veterinary Technician and Dr. Jones Shults on the care of Seniors.

by LeighAnn J. & Jennifer Jones Shults

Care of Senior Dogs
As our dogs age, they are more likely to have aches and pains. But they can stay healthy and active well into their later years with a little planning and preventative care. We can also provide excellent care to senior dogs that have already developed joint problems or painful areas. In addition, German Shepherds are one of the breeds that are at increased risk for developing problems that can affect the nervous system, like disk disease, lumbosacral disease, and degenerative myelopathy. 
As a rehabilitation trained veterinarian, I always start with a nose to tail thorough examination. This includes a general exam, gait evaluation, exam of all the muscles, joints, tendons, ligaments, and bones, and a neurologic exam. German Shepherds are at risk for wrist arthritis as they age, injuries to the support structure on the back of the wrist, developmental problems in the elbow that can lead to arthritis as they age, spinal arthritis, hip dysplasia leading to hip arthritis, injury to the knees, lumbosacral disease, and degenerative myelopathy. Any dog can have any combination of these, and an accurate diagnosis is essential to an effective treatment plan. 
We utilize a combination of treatments in each dog to obtain the best results. Options vary based on the diagnosis and the dog, but may include:
  • Supplements to keep joints lubricated and reduce inflammation
  • Exercise at home to keep muscles strong; often a targeted home exercise program is needed
  • Low-level LASER therapy to reduce pain & inflammation and stimulate healing
  • Electrical stimulation of weak muscles or painful areas
  • Cold & heat therapy
  • Soft Tissue mobilizations to loosen stiff joints or muscles
  • Acupuncture
  • In-House gym sessions to focus on specific problems
  • Hydrotherapy like swimming or underwater treadmill
  • Proprioceptive training for dogs with neurologic dysfunction
  • Support devices like Help ‘Em Up harness or ToeGrips
  • Pain medications – many options

Ultimately, our German Shepherds can live well into their senior years with great quality of life. My own German Shepherd lived to be nearly 14 years.  Focusing on keeping active leads to an overall better quality of life, with more adventures with your canine friend.

Jennifer Jones Shults, DVM, CCRT

If you have questions about the care of a Senior, LeighAnn will be at our Adoption Event:

Adoption Event/AniMall/Cary
Saturday August 9th, 2014 10:30 AM until 12:30 PM
Location: AniMall Pet Adoption and Outreach Center (919) 465-2500
Map: 1105 Walnut Street, Suite H8808 Cary NC 27511
See all of the animals attending this event.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Cooper Introduces the Gem Gang!

Puppies, Puppies, Puppies! We have puppies in the House! These little "Gems" were a GSRA surprise. In early June, we rescued Ruby and her daughter Juliet from the shelter, not knowing that on June 10, 2014 we would wake up to a surprise! Ruby's foster mom started to suspect that Ruby might be pregnant and that morning she gifted us with 6 beautiful girls and 2 handsome boys! These little bundles of joy are 5 weeks old. We keep the pups with their Mama until they are at least 8 weeks old. Then we pair them off and send them to new foster homes so they can learn to live in a home without their Mama and the rest of their siblings. Then, between 10-12 weeks they begin interviewing potential forever homes! But, what kind of forever homes are these little guys looking for?

Why a Puppy isn't Right for Everyone

Run Roxy, RUN! The Puppies were introduced to Roxy, a
senior girl. Puppies will chase ANYTHING and anyone! 
Ok, everyone loves a puppy! We are cute! I should know, I am still a puppy! Who can resist the adorable bundle of fur and the puppy breath? We are so darn sweet, but we grow up and we grow up fast! Puppies can be a great addition to some families, but adult or senior dogs are a better fit for many. GSRAs policy is that we do not adopt dogs under a year old to families with children under 8. We also highly recommend crate training.  We have been questioned about these two practices. Sure, many people have small children and puppies, but if those people were honest with you, in most cases they will admit it was a LOT of extra work! Let me take the opportunity to discuss this in detail. 

Myth: Puppies and Babies Always Go Together

GSD are social creatures. They need companionship.
"You know that cute Kodak commercial with the puppies climbing all over the giggling little boy? Have you ever noticed how short it is? That's because they could only film for a few seconds before the welts rose, the blood dripped, and the boy began to scream for his mother. Puppies have needle sharp-teeth that they happily sink into anyone who walks by. They also have sharp nails that scratch when they jump up - and on the little one, those front feet land right around his face (Betsy Morris)." Baby GSDs are little herding dogs in training. They have sharp teeth and they play rough to get them ready for the job they were bred to do. All too often people adopt a puppy with small children only to give the dog up because the dog is "biting" the child, scratching the child, or playing with the child like he is also a GSD puppy. This is natural for the puppy. I still bite my Mama's ankles because I think it is funny. A baby's skin is much more fragile. As a rescue, we can't put one of our pups in a situation like this. I think any tired mother of a toddler will tell you that they don't need two toddlers running around, especially one with sharp teeth and a desire to tinkle in the house. I hope I didn't make us puppies sound bad! Puppies are great in no kid homes or homes with older children who can help them learn good behavior.

Myth: Crate Training a Puppy is Cruel

All pups need plenty of outside, social time.
Crate training isn't cruel!  My Mama got an email while she was still my foster Mama explaining that she was being cruel to me because she was crate training me. I would like to argue that point. When I first came to live with my family I was just a tiny little 2-3 month old pup. I didn't know about dangers and I was not house broken. My family didn't leave me in the crate all day! But, I did stay in the crate any time my Mama could not directly supervise me. Let me ask this question, would you leave your human pup unsupervised while you were gone or in another part of the house? I don't think you would! Also, if I had been left unsupervised when I first got here, I would have gotten into trouble! Instead of being let out of my kennel to play and get lov'ins, my Mama would have been upset and would have had to spend precious "Cooper Time" cleaning up my mess! I never get yelled at for doing bad things, because my Mama doesn't set me up for failure. That is what a crate is for! I no longer sleep in my crate at night. I have a soft bed beside Tina's bed. I only go into my crate to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner and when my family cannot be home with me. The crate is not a punishment or a bad place to be. Crate training a puppy is an extremely humane way to teach a pup how to live in a house. The Humane Society has a great page explaining how to crate train properly. Remember, puppies do not know the difference in their toys, electrical wires, your best MK pumps or your child's favorite binky. A puppy needs supervision to learn these things! 

Cooper in school listening to his teacher.

About the Author

My name is Cooper and I was rescued by GSRA in May of 2014. I was adopted in June of 2014 by my foster mommy and I am about 5 months old now. I started school a few weeks ago. I did VERY well my first night of school and I was the best in class if I say so myself. However, my second class did not go as well. Week two was walking around a store and taking treats from strangers. I did NOT like this. I was so scared I had an accident on the floor!
Cooper not sure about this "meet a stranger" night.
Hanging at Panera Bread. People LOVE me! 
My Mama decided to just walk me around, but not to let strangers pet me or give me treats. It was just too much for me. I came home from my second class a little sad. So, Papa and my big brother Asher took me to Tractor Supply and Panera Bread the next day. My brother Asher showed me how wonderful the world outside the house can be! 

Thank you all for reading my blog. Check out the Gem Puppies first music video below! They will be available for adoption in about 6 weeks!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Happy 4th of July from Cooper!

Cooper will be back next week with an update on our Gem Litter! He wants to remind everyone to have a HAPPY & SAFE 4th of July. Please remember that fireworks can be frightening to animals.